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Works and Days

The Gaseous Policies of Barack Obama

March 5th, 2012 - 12:05 pm

“They” Did It (Again)!

There are no “oil men” in the White House. So the Obamites cannot, as in the past, blame Halliburton, BP, or Exxon for rigging gas prices out of the Oval Office. Which leads to the question: why then are prices now climbing when the Bush-oil company connection is no longer the narrative? The new answer? “Wall Street” (e.g., the fat-cat bankers, corporate jet owners, those who don’t know when not to profit, etc.) raised prices.

But if true, who let them get away with that? The Chinese, who are scrounging every barrel they can on the world market? The Indians, who follow suit? Maybe it’s the Obama administration Treasury that has borrowed $5 trillion in three years, not only eroding the buying power of the world-traded dollar but also sending a message to oil producers that even more debt is coming and their petrodollars will only be worth less and less?

Or perhaps it is growing world tension, as in Iran, that caused the panic? But then who snubbed the Green revolution in Iran in the spring of 2009, sought “outreach” and “reset” with the theocracy, and leveled five serial demands to stop Iranian enrichment (or else!) to the point that Iran no doubt understood 2009-2012 was a once-in-a-lifetime exempt window of opportunity to get the bomb and to control the Gulf?

To paraphrase William Tecumseh Sherman, Obama might as well rail at the wind. The administration’s current panic mode arises because we are nearing $5 a gallon. (I just filled up two miles away in West Selma, with a supposed 21% unemployment rate and a per capita income of about $14,000, and the price today was $4.27.) It is only early March. Obama may blame Wall Street, but he is savvy enough to do the following calculus: by August, people will want to drive more than they do in March; the Chinese will suddenly not wish to buy less oil this summer; he has no federal leases that he approved in January 2009 that will be coming on line after three-and-a-half years; Volts will not be going into hyper-production mode; and prices will only go up just as the campaign and the weather heat up. There is about an hour’s worth of Obama administration past quotes on gas prices that should make some interesting campaign ads.

High Gas Prices Are Good Bad

So what exactly is the administration’s reaction to skyrocketing gas prices? That should be an absurd question — except that we know administration officials are either on record as indifferent to the high cost of gasoline, or in fact hoping for higher prices.

Consider also the cancellation of the Keystone pipeline; the restrictions of new federal oil leases in the West, Alaska, offshore, and in the Gulf; Obama’s prior promises that energy prices would skyrocket because of his efforts to enact cap and trade; his boast to help Brazil out by importing its new offshore oil finds; his worries only over the abrupt rate of gas increases in 2011 rather than his desire for gradual, steadier escalation; Energy Secretary Chu’s various statements that high prices were not such a concern and indeed that he wished to see gas reach European levels (e.g., $8-10 a gallon); Interior Secretary Salazar’s insistence that even $10 gas would not open up new federal oil lands; and on and on.

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